By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Paleontologists, scientists who study the remains of ancient plants or animals, were digging in Canada for fossils (prehistoric bones) when they encountered what they thought was a large rock. Three days and 50 tons of dirt later, the paleontologists unearthed what’s possibly the largest Pachyrhinosaurus skull ever.
Pachyrhinosaurus means “thick-nosed lizard”, and these 20-foot long dinosaurs lived about 70 million years ago. They roamed all over what is now Alaska and parts of Canada. Since they were herbivores, they lived on a diet of made up of only plants.
The Pachyrhinosaurus’ most unique features, however, are their large bony horns, bumps, and a kind of large frill atop its massive skull.
While this isn’t the first Pachyrhinosaurus found, it’s definitely one of the largest, oldest, and most complete ever discovered. The fossil is about 75-80% intact, which is remarkable for such an old piece of bone. Even though the animal was about 20 feet long, this skull is almost 8 feet tall, which leads the researchers to conclude the beast was very top-heavy.
The researchers will continue to clean the large skull and examine it in detail. Afterwards, it will be placed on display at the University of Calgary.
Featured image courtesy of the University of Calgary. Image of Pachyrhinosaurus illustration courtesy of Julius Csotonyi/image courtesy of University of Calgary.